Neighborhood enthusiasm over the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s plan to develop an 11-acre Milwaukee site is mixing with skepticism over the still-unknown details.
Potawatomi planners have presented a rough outline of their development proposal to spend an estimated $28.96 million renovating seven of the 10 buildings on the Concordia Trust Property southeast of the intersection at 33rd and State streets. The proposal targets the three other buildings for demolition to make way for new structures.
The neighborhood’s reaction has been positive to the plan to bring tribal offices, private companies and other new uses to the site, said Brian Scotty, treasurer of the Historic Concordia Neighbors Inc. But residents in the neighborhood of single-family homes are concerned about such details as whether the multiyear project will increase traffic or create parking problems, he said.
The Potawatomi Community has owned the Concordia Trust Property, which is the former site of Concordia College, since 1990. The Indian Community School leased the site in 1990 and moved out in September 2007.
But the school’s lease officially expires July 19, at which point the Potawatomi will regain full control of the property, said Ken Walsh, Potawatomi spokesman.
The Potawatomi is collecting neighborhood input on a general redevelopment plan, he said, and is avoiding specifics until neighbors have their say about the proposal. The Potawatomi has committed to spending an estimated $2.5 million renovating a building on the property for Spotted Eagle High School, which already uses one building on the site, Walsh said. The redevelopment also focuses on restoring the five historic buildings on the property, he said.
In a plan presented to property neighbors Monday, the renovated historic buildings would be used for tribal offices, a cultural center, an indoor recreational building and offices for other businesses. The plan also includes 207 new parking spaces.
Walsh said the proposed uses for the buildings and other aspects of the plan can change.
“Nothing is set in stone,” he said. “The tribe is seeking community input and wants to submit its file later this summer and has committed to the Spotted Eagle school and the historic preservation.”
Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents the area, said his main question is: What will the Potawatomi build on vacant land created when three buildings are demolished? The Potawatomi plan shows new buildings but does not specify their sizes, designs or uses.
“That obviously raises a lot more concern,” Bauman said, “because of the uncertainty of it.”
If the Potawatomi commits to keeping new buildings in roughly the same size as the existing two- and three-story Concordia buildings, Bauman said, he probably could support the redevelopment. Details of the building design and concerns about traffic and parking will be worked out once the Potawatomi apply for city approval, he said.
“There will be issues with the details,” Bauman said.
Scotty said he is optimistic the neighborhood can work with the Potawatomi and that the project will be “not necessarily bad or good.”
“It’s just different,” he said. “It’s going to be a change, definitely.”